Five Great Winter Holiday Destinations

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With the onset of the infamous British winter now only weeks away, it might just be time to start thinking about taking off to the sun for a well deserved break. With many of southern Europe’s most popular resorts closed for the off-season, it’s a perfect time to consider travelling further afield to exotic destinations in Asia, Africa or the Americas. Listed below are five of the world’s top holiday spots for travellers from the UK.

The Caribbean

Whether Anguilla’s long, unbroken stretches of white sand beaches strike your fancy or Dominica’s rugged trails, teeming wildlife and spectacular terrain – perfect for hikers – are more your thing, there’s sure to be something for everyone on one of the Caribbean’s spectacular islands. With the islands spread out from the southern tip of Florida to the north coast of South America, there can be some climatic variation, but average temperatures in the region tend to be between 22 – 25 degrees Celsius from November to February. Some believe that the winter is actually the best time to travel to the Caribbean as it avoids both the summer rainy season and the overlapping hurricane season.

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The Maldives

Another tropical island paradise, the Maldives stretch far out into the Indian Ocean off the southern tip of India. The Maldives consists of nearly 1,200 coral islands grouped into 26 atolls and boasts a spectacular barrier reef very popular with divers and snorkellers. Average highs in winter are around 29 degrees and the temperature has never dropped below 17 degrees in recorded history. The period from December to the end of March also coincides with the dry season. Activities range from the aforementioned scuba diving and surfing to enjoying the spectacular beaches and clear waters and hopping from island to island by boat.

Thailand

Thailand is a country of contrasts, from the chaotic urban jungle of Bangkok to the rugged hills and mountain villages of the north and the tropical splendour of the coastal regions in the south. Areas like Phuket, an island off the country’s south-west coast, have become popular winter holidays spots for westerners, combing sun, sea and surf in an idyllic tropical setting. Between December and February, average highs are around 31-32 degrees Celsius and rain is relatively infrequent, unlike the early autumn where it may rain as many as 23 days in a month. Phuket offers both developed beach areas where visitors can enjoy bars, restaurants and shopping as well as serene temples, virgin forest and peaceful, isolated beaches.

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Egypt

Significantly warmer and drier than Europe in winter, Egypt offers history and culture along with beautiful beach resorts. The Valleys of Kings and the Great temple of Karnak, close to Luxor, plus the Great Pyramids of Giza and the enigmatic sphinx near Cairo are all must-see sites for budding Egyptologists, offering remarkable insight on one of the world’s most ancient cultures. Egypt’s Red Sea resorts, meanwhile, promise an entirely different experience. Holidays in Sharm El Sheikh or Hurghada allow easy access to the spectacular coral reefs off the coast, as well as the elemental fury of the nearby Sinai Desert where visitors can enjoy a desert crossing by quad bike or camel. Those looking for something more relaxing can stay on the beach, where winter highs reach between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius.

South Africa

Thanks to its location in the southern hemisphere, South Africa enjoys its summer while those in the UK suffer through winter. Still enjoying increased popularity following hosting a very successful World Cup in the summer of 2010, South Africa offers a rather different experience to the tropical hotspots elsewhere on this list. While the areas around the Western and Eastern Capes play host to their fair share of resorts and developed coastline, a holiday to South Africa is an unprecedented opportunity to enjoy the natural splendour and diversity the country has to offer. With eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, the country’s terrain ranges from desert to mountain to rolling savannah rich in wildlife. As you’d expect for a country of its size, South Africa’s climate varies significantly , though the south west of the country, around the famous Garden Route, enjoys a Mediterranean summer during the European winter months.

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